Blanky by Kealan Patrick Burke is a slow brooding meditation on grief, one that pulls no punches – one that will have you wrapped with anticipation and dread, a story that drips with grief and sorrow and fear. This is a story and an author that I highly recommend you check out!
As this is a novella I’ll try to keep the review as spoiler free as possible, which may result in a shorter review than you may be used to by me, but I wouldn’t want to spoil your enjoyment of what is a remarkably assured novella and a story that burrows deep inside your head and festers for days after reading, you’ll never be the same again, trust me – I’m still coming to terms with it.
We join our protagonist after a catastrophic incident which has left him grieving over his child’s death. He’s all alone. No baby, and now no wife, as she’s moved out of the family house which contains too many memories and reminders of the precious life they were given to care for, but somehow failed to keep that little gift safe and alive.
We journey with our protagonist as he tries to get his life back on track, how he wrestles with the dark thoughts he has, how he blames himself, how he is coming to terms with the loss, what his life means now – now that there is no joy in it. It’s bleak storytelling but it’s heart rending too – but it’s so honest and raw that you can’t help but be bundled up in the suffocating grief and all consuming dread that Burke weaves majestically into this fabulously dark tale.
One day though, all of this turmoil is turned on its head as our protagonist heads off to investigate a strange noise emanating from the room his daughter used to sleep in, her tomb that they’d left undisturbed, a place they tried never to enter again after they found her dead and after they packed up her things. On investigating the strange noise he discovers his daughters old blanket, Blanky lying in the middle of the floor – and that’s when the shit hits the proverbial fan!
There have been a great many fabulous books of late which have dealt with grief, it’s the worst thing we can face, and no one can escape its clutches – that’s why it’s so powerful right? Just recently I’ve read ‘Grief Is The Thing With Feathers‘ and ‘Lanny‘ by Max Porter, ‘Piece of Me‘ by Steve Stred and ‘Jutland‘ by Lucie McKnight Hardy – all of which are masterful representations of grief and how to overcome it or be consumed by it, and Blanky is up there with the best of these.
A masterful grief ridden tale that gets at the very heart of the matter, honest, raw and above all scary as hell.
Kealan Patrick Burke
Born and raised in a small harbor town in the south of Ireland, Kealan Patrick Burke knew from a very early age that he was going to be a horror writer. The combination of an ancient locale, a horror-loving mother, and a family full of storytellers, made it inevitable that he would end up telling stories for a living. Since those formative years, he has written five novels, over a hundred short stories, six collections, and edited four acclaimed anthologies. In 2004, he was honored with the Bram Stoker Award for his novella The Turtle Boy.
Kealan has worked as a waiter, a drama teacher, a mapmaker, a security guard, an assembly-line worker at Apple Computers, a salesman (for a day), a bartender, landscape gardener, vocalist in a rock band, curriculum content editor, fiction editor at Gothic.net, and, most recently, a fraud investigator.
When not writing, Kealan designs book covers through his company Elderlemon Design.
A number of his books have been optioned for film.
He is represented by Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House and Kassie Evashevski at Anonymous Content.
He lives in Ohio with a Scooby Doo lookalike rescue named Red.
Reviewed by Ross Jeffery
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